Thursday, September 24, 2015



It is delicious.

And flavorful.


I call it Sausquashcos.


butternut squash
chili powder
salt and pepper
olive oil
Italian sausage
black beans
cream cheese with chives and onion

1. Chop up your butternut squash into bite-size pieces.
2. Put it on foil. Drizzle with olive oil and generously sprinkle on salt and pepper and chili powder. Like a lot. Butternut squash is this weird, beautifully colored vegetable that tastes like absolutely nothing, so you have to really help a squash sista out with the spices.
3. Put it in the 400* oven for 15 minutes.
4. While that's in there, doin' it's thang, slice up the sausage and sizzle it. And chop up the onions and sizzle them in the grease coming off the sausage.
5. Then your butternut squash will probably be ready for you to flip it! Pull it out and flip it and sprinkle more chili powder and salt and pepper on it.
6. Then your sausage will probably be ready for some black beans! Turn the heat down low (low, low, low, low, low, low, low). Open up a can of black beans and throw it in the pan with the sausage and onions.
7. Mix it all around and add in some cream cheese with chives and onion. You don't need much....just enough to make it look like the black beans are sick. And dying of a weird white stuff that's growing on them.
8. Take out the butternut squash and mix it all together.
9. And then put this delicious mixture into a slightly-heated-in-the-microwave tortilla, and serve it to your husband, and make him love you all over again.

You're welcome.

PS Sorry that I don't have fancy pictures, or quantities for my ingredients, but I never claimed to be a food blogger! Also I never actually intended for this recipe to change my life, but it kinda did.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How do YOU Francisco? (A Quiz)

After the Redwoods, we went straight to San Francisco. We drove across the famous Golden Gate Bridge at about 10:30pm, and found our bed about 20 minutes after that. (Stephen has a San Franciscan friend who graciously let us stay at his home while he and his family were gone on their own vacation!)

The next day, we explored the  city - or should I say, we explored ourselves. I learned a lot about myself in San Francisco, and a lot about Stephen. New places have a way of doing that to you.

So I came up with this quiz, to tell you about our day in San Fran. The question is, are you a Heather, or a Stephen, or a city-dweller?

1. Good mooooorning! Do you prefer to:
a. Go out and find somewhere to eat.
b. Make pancakes and then go out exploring.
c. Starve.

A is Stephen.
B is me, except I didn't have time to make anything.
C is San Franciscans. I'm pretty sure they just starve, because I saw how big their kitchens are, and I saw how expensive the restaurants are, and I saw how long it can take to get one mile in downtown San Fran at any time of the day, and it just seems like eating cannot be a priority to these people.

2. You're looking around for a place to eat breakfast. Driving in San Francisco is:
a. Downright terrifying, so you'll let someone else do it.
b. Alright. I can handle the driving - parking is what really sucks about this city.
c. Kinda fun! So many opportunities to honk....but it's also kinda stupid. So I ride my bike.

A is me. I did finally drive, at the end of the day, but mostly I was more than happy to let Stephen chauffeur me around.
B is Stephen. He did get slightly anxious about all the one-way streets and the traffic, but the parking situation truly would have had him in tears if he wasn't so masculine.
C is the San Franciscans again. I am baffled by this, but no one seemed bothered by the overload of cars. It was like watching a cooking demonstration, and the chef pours the brownie batter into a 2"x3" Pyrex pan, and it's clearly not gonna fit, but he's going for it anyway, and no one in the audience goes, "Hey Curtis do you need a bigger pan?" And then it's spilling all over the counter and still nobody thinks to say "Hmm maybe that's too small of a pan." And that metaphor was really just a long, abstract way of saying there are too many dang cars in this city, it is not big enough for all those people, but no one seemed to notice except me.

3. You find a place to eat breakfast! After driving around for another 45 minutes looking for a place to park, you find a different place to eat breakfast. One you can walk to from your parking space. You order:

a. Potatoes, eggs, ham, and pancakes. You eat about 1/4 of one of the pancakes and leave everything else on your plate.
b.  A breakfast banana split. (Basically a banana sliced in half and topped with Greek yogurt and homemade granola full of unidentifiable seeds and other organic things, and strawberries and blueberries, all served in a beautiful glass dish.)
c. A breakfast burrito. Which you inhale in about 5 minutes.

A is the San Franciscans. I KNOW! In this place where all the napkin holders have signs saying "Please only take what you really need," Stephen and I were shocked at the wastefulness! Not to mention, we were starving at this point and had to really hold ourselves back from eating that person's leftovers, because pretty sure they were on a date and pretty sure they didn't even touch it, so pretty sure we could have eaten it without getting the plague, but whate'er.
B is me. Did I trick you?! Did you think Iiiiii was the San Franciscan? Well thaynks. (It was actually quite delicious.)
C is Stephen. And his burrito was also delicious.

4. Breakfast is over, and your plans for the day include taking a picture in front of the Painted Ladies (Victorian townhomes from Full House). Do you:

a. Drive by them because, boring.
b. Park illegally and run your butt up the hill to take a picture, only to get embarrassed of looking so touristy and refuse to get in the picture and hand your camera to someone else.
c. Pose for a picture, then run back down the hill in an absolute PANIC when you see a policeman drive by, clearly on his way to ticket your car.

A was the San Franciscans. They don't curr.
B was Stephen. Normally he's really good about taking pictures with me, but he wasn't havin it in San Fran. I think it was a mixture of embarrassment, concern that someone was going to steal our camera if we asked them to take a picture, and anxiety about being in the city at all.
C was me. And no the po did not ticket us, whew!

5. You're done with one tourist attraction! Next, you:

a. Go back to the hotel / place you're staying at. This is way too stressful. It's not even fun. I actually hate it here.
b. Go back to the hotel / place you're staying at. I'm getting eaten alive in this city. I almost got run over by a car. (That might have happened like 3 times actually.) I just need to plan out my day a little better....
c. Go to another attraction because I run this city.

A is Stephen. B is me. I don't love cities, but I do kinda like them. Stephen, however, borderline-hates them. So after breakfast, one attraction, and 3 hours, we were both ready for a nap.
C is, I'm guessing, the local SFans. They all seemed so confident....one day I'll be like them.

6. You're in Ghirardelli Square, looking out at the water

a. gobbling a Ghirardelli's sundae and trying to figure out the least incompetent passerby who can take a picture with the water in the background
b. on a date with a handsome man, and you're both delicately picking at your own Ghirardelli's sundaes, not wanting to scare off the other one by scarfing down ice cream with your normal abandon
c. so you walk through the middle of a circle of benches filled with couples, and rip out your biggest possible fart. Then keep walking, unabashed, leaving all the lovebirds on benches to look around and giggle and question whether they actually just heard what they think they did.

Let's hope I never get pregnant too far away from a Ghirardelli's, because pretty sure I'm going to crave these.

A is actually both Stephen and I. Maybe we are past the honeymoon phase, but we might have spoon-fought over the last bits of fudge. It's fine.
B is the well-dressed gay San Franciscans we observed having the same(ish) date as us, just on a different bench. Oh, and there was no spoon-fighting. They were a lot daintier than us.
C is another San Franciscan. A lady. (Though not a very ladylike lady....) who really did exactly that.

7. In Fisherman's Wharf, the best place to go is:

a. a fancy exPENSive store, with statues of horses and dragons and naked people, and $2,000 urns, and sundry other expensive decorations that would look expensive anywhere you choose to drop them in your front yard, next to your 10-foot Bellagio-esque fountains, obvi.
b. Boudin's Bakery, where they make clam chowder and sourdough bread bowls - or rather, the stand right next to Boudin's Bakery, where they sell the exact same sourdough bread bowls and clam chowder, for the exact same price, but just without the indoor seating and the line.
c. anywhere else, because Fisherman's Wharf is a tourist trap.

A is me. I don't want to say that I enjoy window-shopping and looking at all the things I can't have, but I do enjoy window-shopping when it's things that I don't want and they are obscenely priced. It's just kind of fun.
B was Stephen. This day was largely (90%?) about the food for him. And I don't like clam chowder.
I'm assuming C is how the locals feel, but who really knows. I couldn't always tell the San Franciscans apart from the tourists.....although I'm sure people knew which category we fell into!

8. It's rush hour once again. This time: the night kind. You:

a. Joyously run people off the road with your ginormous-butt semi.
b. Get in the car, in the passenger side. Coax your co-pilot into the driver's side. Talk them through the process of squiggling out of the tight spot you have found yourselves in, thanks to some very selfish parkers who didn't feel like leaving a mile in front of and behind you on the curb. End up moving to the driver's seat again, because your person couldn't handle the stress of it. Flawlessly squiggle out of the claustrophobic space and onto the normal road, where it's not quiiiite as claustrophobic.
c. Get in on the driver's side. QUICKLY realize that this is not the place for you. You don't belong in this world of shiny new bumpers and parallel parking and 31% grade hills. You don't belong!! Panic. Press on the brake with all your might. Put the car in reverse and press a little harder on the brake. Express alarm when it starts making a terrible sound. Crawl shamefully into the passenger side, then back into the driver's seat once the car is safely away from the curb.

A is the San Franciscans. There are some rude semi-truck drivers there....or at least one.
B was Stephen. He really believed in me for about 2 minutes, I think.
C was me. I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but kind of indignant that anyone is expected to live and drive like that.

I did like San Francisco.....I just wish that we had had more time there. Someday I'll convince Stephen to go back with me ;) And we'll take the trolley so we don't have to worry about parking or driving, and that will make everything so much better.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tall, Tall Trees

Another morning, another beautiful campsite. 

It was a long drive to the Redwoods from Crater Lake, and we were glad to see some familiar faces on our way!

In case you can't tell, that's Paul Bunyan and Babe, his big blue ox! 
Stephen was too embarrassed to take this picture, but not to worry. I wasn't.
The trees in the Redwoods are just so ridiculously tall! 
And so ridiculously wide.

We climbed into a tree that we could have brought our dining room table into. It was huge! This was the view looking up.
When a tree falls in the Redwood National Forest, even if someone is around to hear it, there's not much else they can do about it. Eventually, someone will come by and cut a path through it, and then they'll leave the tree carcass there.

I climbed this tree (these trees?) like a rock wall. It was so fun! 

I felt so enchanted by this quiet place, where everything was so disproportionately gigantic and people were so small. It felt like we had driven through a magic shrink-ray, and now we walked around in an ant world, a fraction of our normal size. 

So as I always do when I feel enchanted, I invented a lot of cheesy poses for Stephen to do with me. #sorrynotsorry

I think the trail we explored was about 3 miles, but I didn't even notice it. We just walked around in awe, taking a million pictures, climbing, touching, talking. Whenever we wanted to take a kissy picture, we would wait until everyone else moved on, then quickly set up our tripod and put it on self-timer. We sometimes like it when people offer to take pictures for us, but we sometimes hate it. Anyone else?

We also went to Fern Canyon, where some parts of Jurassic World were filmed. When we were about a mile and a half from the trailhead, we encountered a giant lake in the middle of the road! We pulled over and just walked to the trailhead. And then we were actually kind of glad that we did, because we came face-to-face with some huge elk.

NatGeo status.
Looking at us with a side-eye.... 

I was so afraid the guy with the horns was going to charge at us! Stephen was not afraid of this and kept getting closer to take the picture. Then he thought it was funny to say stuff like, "You just keep walking and I'll catch up. I might be running. He might be running after me." But he didn't, and we made it to Fern Canyon in one piece.

Fern Canyon was so fun! There were footbridges everywhere, because the whole trail was pretty wet. The footbridges weren't really secured down, so when you walked on them, they bounced and moved out of place. 
"Fern Canyon" was a perfect name for this place. I've never seen so much vegetation growing all over the walls in any canyon I've ever been in!

The road to Fern Canyon isn't paved, so there was dust EVERYWHERE. You can see a huge difference in the ferns in this picture and the ferns in the one above it. 
So far, we liked the Redwoods the best of our whole trip. One day we'll go back and camp there. Anyone who wants to plan a trip and invite us is free to do so :)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Prehistoric Pool

We got to Cascadia at about 10:30 at night, when it was already dark and quiet hours were in full swing at the campsite. So it was a nice surprise in the morning when we crawled out of our tent and found this:
Laaaaa! Okay I know in this picture it just looks like trees, but I swear, people, some angels started singing when I drew back the tent door.  

After some good-morning cuddles and instant oatmeal, we packed up and set off to explore Cascadia. It is beautiful! Apparently there used to be a whole resort there, because people believed that the soda spring water there could heal any number of ailments. Then they tore down the resort and made it a campground. But don't worry, because they still have a drinking fountain! We didn't know if it was the spring water that heals ailments, but we drank from it just in case.

We meant to find the Cascade Springs that we had seen on the Google machine, but even if we didn't find them, we liked the place we did fine. Stephen did some swimming and I did some photographing, and then we both picked our way across the rocks to a secret waterfall on the other side.

This picture right here explains pretty well why I didn't go swimming :)
The water was so clear! You could see every rock. Stephen reached his arms above his head and then touched the bottom with his toes, and he was completely submerged, even his hands. So we guessed it was about 10 feet deep. 

It was beautiful! It was like this secret world. I think I would love to have it in my backyard one day. It would be so zen - I would be so zen! I mean, can you even?
Feeling refreshed, we left Cascadia and headed south towards Crater Lake. On our way, we saw entire miles of mountains full of trees that had been burned to a crisp.

It was humbling to see, but also kind of hopeful. Even though the land looked totally devastated, new life was beginning there. So just keep that in mind if you ever feel like this burned-up forest!

When we were 20 minutes from the North entrance of Crater Lake, we got detoured. The North entrance was closed c/o the fire that seemed determined to RUIN OUR VACATION, and we were re-directed to the South entrance. Which obviously took longer to get to. We didn't get into the park until after 5pm.

The good thing about Crater Lake is that once you're there, you can see the lake pretty immediately. We did a quick hike stroll to the little gazebo viewpoint / visitor center exhibit thing they have and learned all about how it was formed. (I already forgot the details, but I'm preeeettttttyy sure it used to be a volcano, and then it exploded, and rain filled it in. Now it's one of the clearest lakes in the world - which you could tell even from as high up as we were.)

It was so smoky. I'm sure when the air is clearer, it looks amazing.

There's only one hike down to the lake's edge. People can take boat tours during the day, but we got there too late for that. We considered just staying the night, taking a quick dip in the water the next morning, and then continuing on to the Redwoods, but it was far from the Redwoods, and we wanted to make sure we had enough time there. So at around 7:00, when the sun had already started going down, we quickly changed into swimsuits and ran down the trail.

It's only about a mile to the dock, and since it was downhill the whole way, it wasn't bad. The bad part was when we got there and had to jump in the water. I dipped my toe in and it was freezing! 

I also dipped my husband in, and he froze as well. 
Then he swam around and said blatant lies like, "It's not that bad!" "I'm used to it now." "I mean it's cold but it's not terrible." "At this point it's colder for me out of the water than it is in it!" 
I didn't believe him. But looking at this lake, and seeing that the sun had already set, I realized that it was my only chance to jump in a prehistoric pool! And I found myself sitting down and sliding on my bum to the edge of the dock....
.....and cannonballing in. In a slow, gentle, torturous kind of non-cannonball. But I got in, dangit!